Online Storytelling Training Can Transform Your Business – You Just Need To Follow These Rules

Crises tend to accelerate change and few areas of working life have been changed as significantly as training. Back in March, I feared for the future of that side of my storytelling work. Today, through a mixture of luck, hard work and a lot of trying, testing and iterating, I’m convinced that online learning can be a transformative tool.

The luck I’ve had is in part related to my regular appearances as broadcaster Penny Smith’s sidekick on her weekend breakfast show on TalkRadio. She’s one of the finest media professionals I’ve worked with and I’ve learned so much about how we can improve our communications by watching and listening to her. The virtual world of training has remarkable similarities to that of word-based broadcasting.

With economic pressures set to be with us for a while, it’s even more vital that employees are given the skills they need to navigate a digital world, to help unleash their creativity, bolster collaboration and give them confidence and resilience. Training is core to that.

The key is to know that what worked in person may not work online. The experience is obviously vastly different – a workshop moderator can no longer rely on charisma to get them through the session. Quality of content is even more important. And there are unique digital issues that need to be navigated. For instance, screen fatigue presents a constant danger and it’s easy for attention to stray. Zoom-fatigue has become a bit of a buzzword.

For leaders committed to improving the culture of their workplaces and who think strategically about how to connect teammates to one another, binding them to a shared purpose, online training is essential. Which is why businesses need to create digital forums for teams to meaningfully interact.

What follows are my rules for keeping workshop content unique, engaging and interactive. What works in person doesn’t always work remotely. You still need to cover all the material whilst ensuring people feel engaged and there’s energy in the room. But your tactics need to change. Instead of replicating workshops, adapt them for remote learning and always be ready to adapt, aware of the differences that exist and which you must constantly be learning about.

These are just small snippets, edited down intentionally. If you want more details and information, please contact me for a free consult at grant@gf-media.co.uk or 0n 07801821891

 

PARTICIPATE

Everyone needs to feel like they can and do play an integral part to the whole proceedings. This cannot be a one-way broadcast.

 

PLAN FOR GLOBAL

Because there are no geographical constraints on attendees, there is a greater responsibility on the trainer to represent themes and topics on a global scale. Don’t be so parochial.

 

BRAINWRITE, DON’T BRAINSTORM

The virtual forum is the perfect place to run a hierarchy-free session. Often, it’s the boss in the room from whom everyone takes their lead. With brainwriting, we can create a forum based on meritocracy rather than workplace status.

 

ONLINE ETIQUETTE

My radio work alongside broadcaster Penny Smith has been invaluable in this respect. On Talk Radio, she has really helped me to see how to handle conversations to make them less cluttered and far clearer.

 

START LIKE BEZOS

I’m a huge fan of the way Amazon boss Jeff Bezos starts his board meetings – individuals must sit for 30 minutes and read other’s notes and presentations before discussing them. Sometimes silence really is golden, it can help focus the mind and prepare for better group discussions.

 

THE EYES HAVE IT

It’s a good idea to explain the limits of online training as soon as you start, partly because the science on this is so interesting. For instance, Jeremy Bailenson, who researches the psychology of teleconferencing at Stanford University, recently suggested that one reason why online conferences are so exhausting is because of ‘the challenges of synchrony, and also the exhaustion that comes from eye contact.’

 

GET THE BASICS RIGHT

Insist that everyone keeps cameras on all the time and that their mics are on mute unless they’re speaking. Also, get everyone comfortable with the chat function that you’ll be using.

 

SHORTER IS BETTER

Instead of offering half or full-day sessions, I’ve been breaking things up into smaller chunks. Sometimes just 45 minutes to deal with specific problems on other occasions double that on two consecutive days. With a definite sequential rhythm – advice, evidence, exercise and then discussion.

 

SUPPLEMENT WITH VIDEOS

Record presentations and turn them into short talking heads-style lectures designed as refreshers for those who attended the course. In addition, use more visuals during the sessions. Research has shown that the human brain can process imagery and pictures much more efficiently and successful than lots of text.

 

BREAKOUT ROOMS

If the group is big enough, split it into smaller breakout groups, so that different teams can work on the same exercises and then come together and compare notes. It’s a great way of making things feel both more intimate and competitive.

 

BE A BETTER SALESMAN

When you’re all together in a room, it’s much easier to persuade people about the benefits of them being there. In a virtual world where there are so many distractions, this is tough. It’s why you constantly need to sell the benefits of being there.

 

NO DEAD AIR

Another tip I’ve learned from the radio. Try to avoid silence, always keep the conversation going and ensure that the pace is a little faster than it would be if face-to-face. I’ve learned that you need even more energy on the radio than you do on TV.

 

LONGER-TERM SUPPORT

Training can so often feel like a lot of money thrown at a problem with not much return. If you have follow-ups, proper editorial guidance beyond the sessions, offer one-to-one mentoring to supplement the skills that have been learned, that ensures individual progress and growth.

Online Storytelling Training Can Transform Your Business - You Just Need To Follow These Rules

Crises tend to accelerate change and few areas of working life have been changed as significantly as training. Back in March, I feared for the future of that side of my storytelling work. Today, through a mixture of luck, hard work and a lot of trying, testing and iterating, I’m convinced that online learning can be a transformative tool. The luck I’ve had is in part related to my regular appearances as broadcaster Penny Smith’s sidekick on her weekend breakfast show on TalkRadio. She...

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